Spanish GP: FIAT Yamaha preview

FIAT Yamaha Team Head Back into the Light at Jerez After the excitement and intrigue of the first ever night race in Qatar two weeks ago, business returns to normal this weekend for the Fiat Yamaha Team as the second round of the MotoGP World ...

FIAT Yamaha Team Head Back into the Light at Jerez

After the excitement and intrigue of the first ever night race in Qatar two weeks ago, business returns to normal this weekend for the Fiat Yamaha Team as the second round of the MotoGP World Championship welcomes the staff and riders to more familiar surroundings in Spain. A spring afternoon in Andalucia, at one of the championship's most popular testing venues, should provide somewhat more predictable conditions and a more realistic flavour of what is to come from the riders in 2008, with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo looking to establish their credentials in front of an adoring capacity crowd at Jerez.

Rossi's love affair with the Spanish fans stretches back to 1996, when he took the first of his six victories in all classes at Jerez. Five of those have come in the premier-class, including with Yamaha in 2005 and 2007, but with the 29-year-old now without a win since Estoril last year, he must win if he is to avoid his longest winless streak since his debut MotoGP victory at Donington Park in 2000.

For rookie sensation Lorenzo the event marks his home debut in the premier-class and he heads into the race full of confidence after taking centre stage under the floodlights of Doha. The 20-year-old started from pole position and finished on the podium in his maiden MotoGP appearance, meaning he lies second in the championship heading to Jerez - a circuit that holds no secrets for the Mallorcan. Lorenzo made history on home soil as the youngest rider ever to qualify for a Grand Prix on his 15th birthday in the 125cc class back in 2002 and 250cc victories for the past two seasons have contributed to his rise as a national hero.

Jerez could barely provide a more strikingly contrasting backdrop to Losail, with the rolling green Andalusian hills providing the ideal setting for a natural amphitheatre that has become known as the Spanish Mecca of motorcycle r acing, with upwards of 120,000 fans making the annual pilgrimage. The track itself challenges the riders to pick the most effective racing line, with few hard braking points and little opportunity to fully open the throttle. The 4.423km layout features regular and quick changes in direction, meaning that the rider requires a responsive overall set-up and good grip at maximum lean angles.

Valentino Rossi - "A Big Spanish Party!"

"Obviously Qatar didn't turn out quite as we hoped but we took away a lot of positives from the weekend. We saw how competitive both our bike and the Bridgestone tyres are, and this is very exciting for the season ahead. We did some excellent work at the Jerez test in February and I was able to have great fun riding the bike, so now I'm really looking forward to going to race there. It's a great track to ride on, it's quite technical and it usually seems to suit our bike quite well. We know we have a big job facing us, especially after the result of Qatar, so we will be aiming to make the most of the few hours of practice time that we have available to us to refine our package. Jerez is a great track for me and I have had some wonderful races there in the past, including a brilliant win last year, and I always enjoy racing there a lot. It will be nice to return to a 'normal' racing schedule, even if I enjoyed the night racing in Qatar, and I have always felt very at home racing in Spain. Most importantly, there's always a fantastic atmosphere in Jerez with the fans coming from all over Spain; it's like one big crazy party!"

Jorge Lorenzo - "In the Spotlight"

"Qatar was unbelievable and something I will remember forever. I've felt great since and now I'm really excited about the next one; I never expected to be going into only my second MotoGP race in such a great position in the classification! However I know it will be hard work for me again in Jerez and it's still just my second race on the M1. I will have to work and focus very hard in practice if I want to be able to repeat the Qatar experience. In November at the test I had some difficulties but in February I did one of my best laps of the whole winter, despite the bad weather, and I hope I can be even faster this time. Jerez for me last year was a fantastic race, I took pole position and the victory and I also won in 2006 so I have some great memories of racing here. Jerez is undoubtedly a special track for me; it's my home, I know it very well and it's the track where I rode in my very first GP in 2002. It's also the first place I ever planted my 'Lorenzo's Land' flag! It will always be in my heart. It's quite a technical track and I like this about it. In Jerez a rider can win the race in the corners and it's not always the most important thing to have the fastest bike. I feel quite different going to race in Spain now compared to last year when I was in 250. Now I am at the top and I feel very much in the spotlight. Qatar changed everything for me and now I hope that I can continue in the same way in front of my home fans!"?

Davide Brivio - "Back to Normal"

"This weekend it is back to normal and back to Europe, which is very important. Qatar was important because it was the first race with Bridgestone and now we have to apply what we learnt in that race to Jerez. We know that our package has great potential because the Yamaha YZR-M1 performed at a very high level and Bridgestone tyres won the race so our job is to make the two things work together as fast as we possibly can. This is our target for Jerez, although it won't be easy because we don't have much time - only four hours of practice. It means we have to work well and be efficient from the first moment but Qatar gave us great motivation and we can't wait to get back on track to try and make more improvements."

Daniele Romagnoli - "Building for the Future"

"We go to Jerez feeling excited after the result in the first race and also after a great test there during pre-season. We have high hopes but it is very important that we keep our feet on the ground. It is not an easy thing to do but we are building for the future of Yamaha and we must all keep our concentration on this job. There will be a lot of fans and media at Jerez with great expectations for Jorge but we will try to keep him relaxed and make sure he doesn't have to think about too much apart from racing. But he did a great job in Qatar and it's clear that we don't need to teach Jorge too much, he is very intelligent and extremely focused on what he needs to do. The Michelin tyres worked really well in Qatar and I think they'll be not so bad here too. We have a lot of data gathered from the tests just one month ago so hopefully that will help us find a setting quickly and give Jorge time to get comfortable and find a good rhythm for the race. In general we're all looking forward to going back to work and enjoying another weekend of high emotion!"


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Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Jorge Lorenzo , Davide Brivio